This past weekend over two million women worldwide walked. Called the Women’s March, many felt moved to participate because of conflicting ideals with a new administration. Many marched because they feared the loss of freedoms and rights. Others marched as a show of solidarity for women. Some walked simply because they could. They donned pink hats and walked, marched, or simple gathered to support women, wearing pink hats and carrying signs.
“In the end, our success in resolving conflict and affecting deep change is not made by focusing on the leading figure of our discontent, but rather on the much less visible number of women and men who form his or her base of support. While it may be tempting to focus our attention on the leader, waiting for and pouncing on his every misstep and falter, in the long run our most effective response will be in how well we do at the hard work of creating a new solidarity with those who see the situation so differently than we. A good reminder of this fact is in considering how we came to this crossroads in the first place; the responsibility is not the Russians alone, but our own: we got in this situation partly by overlooking the need to reassure some of our good neighbors that they were needed and valued. Taking human hearts for granted can be a costly mistake and not one to be made twice. So while we may be mesmerized by what goes on in Washington, D.C., it would do us well to be even more active in communities farther afield. Building bridges there could be the ethical and political infrastructure we need for winning the next series of crucial elections. The question is not how many in the inner circle are hearing us shout, since they will be largely deaf to our appeal, but instead how many of those who put them there are hearing us in quieter conversations all across America. Success will be measured not by how many of our own we can put in the streets, but even more importantly, by how many women and men in the rust belt will be willing to wear a pink hat the next time around.” These words by retired Episcopal bishop Steven Charleston bring us to my point and our verbs for today.
What comes after we have walked? What comes after we take a stand for a cause or ideal? The answer is life, that forward progression of steps we make each day that, eventually, will comprise the journey of a lifetime. You see, getting your dander up for a good cause is great but that can only last for a certain amount of time. How do we live those ideals for which we marched?
Sometimes the conflict is not so much about the other guy but about our response and the manner in which we respond. It is so much more fun and easy to get mad and stay mad but seriously, unless you do jumping jacks or some other exercise in your anger, getting mad really accomplishes very little. Real, long-lasting action requires thought and – gulp – reconciliation.
Reconciliation starts with understanding. First we need to admit and understand that there are other points of view. No matter how wrong or ill-conceived we may judge them to be, they do exist. Generally speaking, many have as valid a right to be felt as do our own. Those incorrect beliefs that are wrong, as in harmful or illegal, need to be understood and explained. Appeasement does not always mean acceptance and that is something to remember.
No one person is a god or even a demi-god. We all are human beings and deserve equal respect and opportunity to survive and thrive. Some of our steps need to be toward building bridges to carry us all into a productive and efficient future. That is the best march of all.